I’ve recently been in quite a heated debate starting here at about #67. Someone clearly prejudiced against atheists made the charge that atheism is dangerous which sparked the whole battle. One point of contention was over the issue of state laws that deny atheists the right to hold public office. His reply was to say atheists then should “move to a different fucking state” and argued some pathetic state sovereignty argument. When I showed him that such justification then would mean he’d have to be in support of segregation 50 years ago, that didn’t sit well until I finally showed the absolute hypocrisy of his position here at post #106. Unfortunately his prejudice is so strong that it didn’t take long to lapse right back to this completely discredited position.
Now what ultimately infuriated me was when he claimed atheists were just looking to pick fights. I asked if he thought Susan B. Anthony or Rosa Parks were just looking to pick a fight. Well that was simply too much for him for me to dare make a comparison to Rosa Parks, one that lead to him throwing some colorful insults at me which questioned my intelligence and also made me out to be various parts of a feminine hygiene apparatus. Now as an atheist I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t look up to and reference people like Rosa Parks. People like Rosa Parks or Homer Plessy, Mary Wollstonecraft or Margaret Sanger, Harvey Milk, Pat Tillman, and the Founding Fathers are all heroic symbols, people who at great risk took action in defense of what they believed in and spoke out against inequality and injustice. The impetus for all is the same, one group with power taking advantage of another. Now you don’t have to be gay or black or even American to be inspired by these people to take action against whatever injustice you happen to be faced with. Injustice, prejudice, and inequality are ugly truths that know no racial, ethnic, gender, religious or sexual boundary.
We take successful actions and strategies from the gay rights movement who in turn looked to the civil rights movement who in turn looked at Gandhi, the suffragette movement, abolitionists, the Founding Fathers of the US and on and on back through time to anyone in any place who stood up to oppression. What we fight for is more than simply our rights as atheists but rather the rights of a minority to liberty and justice against the possible wishes of a majority who would deny them. We’re all playing roles in one part of a much larger tapestry of mutual human respect. I think it’s important to keep this in mind when fighting our battles and know that we do share something with those people, past and present, fighting on different fronts and that we rightly should be inspired by them and claim them as our champions and for anyone who would try to deny us that through belittling our front in the battle, remind them of just how ignorant and hypocritical they are being when they do that.